Above, coloured version.
Below, original one.
When I bought this photo, the seller described it as ‘Mother and Daughter, Garden, 3 Adelaide Terrace, 1912’. I think, though, that they are a grandmother and granddaughter. I wonder where it was? I found one ‘Adelaide Terrace’ in the UK and one in Perth, Australia. Do you know of one?
It’s rare to see such an informally posed child in a photo of this date. The grandmother – I’ll call her that – is trying to keep a straight face for the camera, but is losing a battle of fighting off a smile; you can see it in her eyes.
I decided on a deep blue dress for the woman because of her brooch which looks to me like Wedgwood and, while many are other colours, the most common is a mid or powder blue with a white or ivory figure in the centre.
The child’s dress and headband-ribbon, I made a cream colour.
The surround – greenery, flowers, and the fence and wall behind, were quite interesting to do. It’s actually quite difficult sometimes to see what is there in a black and white or sepia photo. Even to someone without colour-blindness, reds and greens can look identical in monochrome. So a curled green leaf could be a red flower and what seems like buds could be nothing of the sort.
There are a lot of wild flowers in this photo, but as well as that, there are roses, poppies and some kind of tall daisy. I had the feeling that sticking to traditional red poppies was sensible, and the leaves that go with them are a sort of dusty sage green a lot of the time. The seed pods are sometimes indistinguishable from the unopened buds… it depends so much on direction and, of course, on light.
While there is good light and shadow in this image, it was not shot in bright sunlight so I had to be careful. Sunlight helps to define objects not only because of the strength of light but because of the strongly-cast shadow that occurs. With photos taken on overcast days or when the sun has temporarily gone behind a cloud, there’s more guesswork involved. So I decided that to make up for the inevitable errors in perception, I’d vary the shades of greenery in a fairly specific rather than random manner. So you’ll see what may be patches of the same plant in different shades than they should be.
The brickwork and fence were fun to do, though I had to take a break for a couple of days to be able to see the bits I’d missed and attend to those parts!
The daisies – for a change – gave me problems as I couldn’t decide what sort they were. Were they oxeye daisies? If so, they looked too tall. But then, perspective can seem very skewed and I had a feeling the garden was either on a slope or there were steps up to the woman and child. I looked at other daisies, but eventually decided on oxeye as they are close enough. And curiously, I think it works rather well as the child’s dress and headband add balance. Wouldn’t the photographer have wanted balance in the photo? I think so, and I try to achieve balance in my colourings.